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My wife & I visited Absinthe for evening dinner with an Ottawa cousin & her husband in October '12. We all enjoyed the food and found the service satisfactory, however we had significant issues with the ambience. Two words describe that: DARK and NOISY. It was SO DARK I couldn't read the menu without additional lighting being brought to the table; when the food arrived I could scarcely admire the plating. At the same time was SO NOISY that our party could talk to each other without shouting -- which, I suppose added to the overall noise level ;-) Both the darkness and the noise are solvable issues if there is the will to do it. Viz. more lighting and sound absorbing measures, e.g. suspended ceiling panels. Now with regard to the darkness issue in particular, I'm over 65 and I know my vision isn't what it used to be, however I'll warning restaurateurs that the general population is ageing and they to make accommodations.
I actually suggested this place to my husband, so one evening we made our way to Westboro to try it. We walked into an empty restaurant and were seated way at the back of the room, near the bar and where the wait staff was milling about. Despite this, it took them forever to bring us water and bread once we'd ordered. The bread itself was nothing special, but my husband was hungry and dug in. He had to ask for more butter, as they were not very generous with it. My husband ordered the daily soup, and I had a vegetarian terrine platter. Pretty much everything was bland and rubbery. Oh, and they even forgot to add the pickle that was advertised on the menu. I was eating and noticed someone else's order being carried past our table, with the missing pickle! I pointed this out, and the waitress brought me one. My husband did enjoy his soup. I had a mouthful; it was okay. When the waitress came to clear the table, my husband complimented the soup and was told that they sell it in jars and pointed to a shelf with...lo and behold...jars of soup! I wondered if perhaps they'd merely opened a few and heated it for that night's dinner. The main course was a huge disappointment. My husband ordered a steak of some kind, as he usually does, and he's not a fussy eater, so dug in. My braised short ribs tasted like liver! I could barely swallow, it was so nasty. My husband looked alarmed and asked me if everything was okay. I said I thought the texture and taste of the beef was off-putting. I was a lot more sinewy and rubbery than I expected for meat that had been braised. Also, the spaetzle the beef was plated on were greasy and undercooked. I know how to make spaetzle; it's not difficult, but you can ruin them, and that night the chef did. The assorted sauteed vegetables on the plate were bland, too. The beef was really bad, but I had them wrap it up for our lab. At least he liked it! I think for the prices they charge here, the service and the quality of the food need to be stepped up quite a few notches. I would not go back, nor would I ever recommend this place.
The address has changed - 1208 Wellington St. My husband and I had their entire Winterlude dinner menu and it was fabulous! I would highly recommend this place for a delicious evening out. The terrine was good if you like terrines. The escargots was AMAZING. I ended up using the bread they gave us at the start to soak up the delicious sauce because I just had to eat it all! The bison steak was a much larger portion than we were expecting and it was cooked to perfection! Paired with their suggested Baco Noir - symphony. But the clear winner of the entire evening (for me) was the duck confit. This was the best duck I've ever had in any preparation - no ifs, ands or buts! It melted in my mouth and was so flavourful... I will be dreaming of that duck for the rest of my life. I had the duck with the Zinfandel (only one on their menu) and it was spectacular on it's own and with the duck. Great linger. Dessert was also good - the warm chocolate fondant was beautiful, silky, and just plain exquisite. The creme brulee came with a choco-chip cookie - both were really good, but not outstanding. I paired the Strewn Vidal with it - it was good, but I could have skipped it. My only negative comment - did NOT like the snow fairy, but if you like the sound of a peppermint milky drink, go for it. Like a peppermint patty, but without the chocolate or smooth texture. Nice atmosphere, lots of candles, not pretentiuos, romantic, easy-going, excellent service. It was full and had several larger groups, so the ambient noise level was high-ish; but it felt like it was because everyone was just enjoying themselves and having good food and great conversation. I really struggled in deciding if to give the meal 4 or 5; ultimately for the price and the exquisiteness of the mains and 1 of each of the appetizer and dessert, and compared with similar places that almost always fall short, I went with 5/5!
A nice bistro for lunch. Previous reviews are for dinner and also many for the pre-Wellington Street location. I have been twice for lunch and both times was very enjoyable. At least at lunch, it is very much like a French bistro: a rather plain, but functional atmosphere, a small but innovative menu, and a reasonably priced wine list. I will be back (well, at least for lunch).
Decor was nice. We came in to a completely empty restaurant, with a reservation for 2 and were seated at a table for 2. Many other "2's" after us, seemingly without reservations were seated at more spacious tables for 4. I could not find anything on the menu that was not either red meat or laden with fat. I started to order the duck (knowing it is usually greasy) but the waitress informed me it would be cooked medium-rare. I didn't think that would go down well, greasy half-raw poultry, so opted for the quail instead, even though it was wrapped in bacon & stuffed with ricotta. It came served with beets (does anybody really like beets?), carrots and a cauliflower pate that I didn't find very palatable. The quail was tasty but left a greasy film in my mouth and a bit of a heavy greasy feeling in my stomach. We ended by sharing the maple tart and chocolate fondant, both served with a miniscule scoop of ice cream. Both were tasty but VERY rich. I didn't get halfway home before the goosebumps and stomach flipping started. I spent $98 (one table d'hote steak, one quail a la carte, 2 drinks, 2 desserts, no booze) and half the evening in the W.C. emptying my colon (involuntarily). Not worth it! Sorry, enjoyed it more last time, but won't be back.
We arrived for dinner and was greeted he hostess who sat us by the side window. After sitting for a while, our server finally came to see if we would like drinks. We ordered two martinis. It took a while for our drink but when we finally got them. one of the "common" martinis tasted like it was bartender's first and she did't put the proper mixture of alcohol. We returned the drink. The waiter then asks us if we wanted more to drink and we then requested menus after 20 mintues!!! There was some confusion to the menu (table haute vs pre, mi etc). After another twenty minutes, we decided if it was this bad to get served for food, it would take just as long to get our dinner! We paid for our martini and left. Not very good service, lacking great staff and ambiance could be better for this restaurant. Will not recommend or return.
The wife and I loved it. Good food and not pretentious. Heard they're moving to Wellington to a bigger location. Looking forward to that.
I really like this place. I'm really surprised about the other reviews since I go often and have always had a really great meal and nice service. Love the three course option and the wine paring.
We had a great time at absinthe. The food is amazing (I love that they pair the wine with the food) and service was friendly and competent. This is my friends and I new favorite place.
Nice atmosphere. Tables a little snug, but it was a big party. Food was pleasant, veggie servings were on the skimpy side. My B/f and I both hated the sweet sauce on the bison, but the meat was nice. THE BIG PROBLEM: Our server was embarassingly slow. We had to ask for water refills. coffee refills were offered once, he filled our glasses HALFWAY and never came back to top them off with a new pot or ask if we wanted more. Steak knives were not delivered with our meals, nor salt, pepper, or parmesan. Three people ate cold food because the server kept forgetting the knives. Maybe it was his first night, but I've never had to ask for so many things, so many times! One request was never enough! ANd it took FOREVER to get the bill (despite, you guessed it, asking multiple times) I would not go back.
Been there 3 times. The food is excellent and reasonably priced. The decor is nice. However, the service is terribly slow (welcome to Ottawa). We waited 20 minutes to have our first order for drinks taken and then the wait time kept getting worse. The icing on the cake was the painful loooooooooong wait to pay...very frustrating and bad for business. My friends and I have finally boycotted the place after the 3rd strike.
I have never been served a cheaper cut of meat in a high end restaurant. When the server was told we were disappointed in the meat as we found it tough, chewy and unappetizing, he said it was not the usual 'filet' but was a filet from a different part of the animal. The rump?!?!?! The french fries were OK, although they came out of a bag.
This fine dining establishment in Ottawa’s trendy Hintonburg neighbourhood is known for its award-winning chef and founder's penchant for supporting the community and local producers. The menu features predominantly French dishes, but with a worldly influence, and the burger is made from hanger steak trim from Ottawa's O'Brien farms. Available at lunch and dinner, the signature Benevolent Burger has changed over the years and is currently a double patty behemoth served with smoked bacon, cheddar and ranch sauce. True to its name, $1 from every burger sold is donated to a local women's shelter.View this Smart List
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